Climate Rides the Omnibus
The year-end law gives a lift to climate-related spending
The omnibus spending bill is under no circumstances a “climate law.” Since it spans your entire government, though, it has many provisions referring to climate change. They aren’t dramatic step forward. However the proven fact that they will pass as a part of a bipartisan spending law is an indication of how climate change is slowly becoming normalized as a political consideration.
One significant provision pertains to agriculture. It provides for personal contributions to existing funds “for the needs of addressing the changing climate, sequestering carbon, improving wildlife habitat, protecting sources of drinking water, and addressing other natural resource priorities.” The activities funded through this system may end in “environmental services advantages to be sold through an environmental services market.” A related provision would, based on the E&E News, “create a registry of third-party vendors whom farmers could seek the advice of to assist measure the carbon advantages of varied farm practices, with the concept of supporting voluntary carbon markets.”
These agriculture measures, which have the support of the farm lobby, are significant for 2 reasons. First, they increase the incentives for farmers to interact in regenerative agriculture and soil conservation. That’s a potentially significant carbon sink that we’d like to guard and foster. ( CLEE is contributing to this effort through GrizzlyCorps, which sends recent college graduates to work with farmers and ranchers.). Second, climate motion doesn’t are likely to be popular in rural areas. Programs like this may be helping people take into consideration climate motion in a more supportive way.
The bill also accommodates a major budget increase for DOE. As one other E&E News story reports, “the funds would support the department’s efforts to scale carbon capture and removal technologies, advance technologies aimed toward boosting the resilience of the U.S. electricity system and reduce emissions from heavy industry like steel and concrete, amongst other initiatives.” DOE’s recent Grid Deployment Office will get $59.5 million, as a lift to efforts to construct out the transmission we’d like to handle a surge of renewable energy.” There may be also $685 million to search out recent ways to chop carbon emissions from industry. For the primary time, the bill also authorizes the federal government to buy carbon that has been faraway from the air or the ocean.
Finally, the omnibus accommodates funding for agencies whose portfolios include climate adaptation: $317 million for the Army Corps (plus $1.1 billion for constructing after Hurricanes Ian and Fiona), increased spending on the Salton Sea which is being dried up within the California drought, and reauthorization for a Colorado River water conservation program.
One disappointment in regards to the bill is international climate spending. The bill provides only a $1 billion dollars. That’s only a 3rd of what Democrats wanted and far lower than Biden has promised by 2024. However, it’s a billion dollars greater than the zero spending Republicans would like.
The 117th Congress has made major progress on climate change, with tons of of billions of dollars of recent spending within the Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act. Even though it’s imperfect, the omnibus isn’t a nasty approach to cap off this Congress.